Chemotherapy-induced mucositis: The role of mucin secretion and regulation, and the enteric nervous system

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Abstract

Alimentary mucositis is a severe, dose-limiting, toxic side effect of cytotoxic chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Patients with mucositis often have reductions or breaks imposed on cytotoxic therapy, which may lead to reduced survival. Furthermore, there is an increased risk of infection and hospitalization, compounding the cost of treatment. There are currently limited therapeutic options for mucositis, and no effective prevention available. Mucin expression and secretion have been shown to be associated with mucositis. Furthermore, mucins exhibit protective effects on the alimentary tract through reducing mechanical and chemical stress, preventing bacterial overgrowth and penetration, and digestion of the mucosa. Additionally, a number of studies have implicated some key neurotransmitters in both mucositis and mucin secretion, suggesting that the enteric nervous system may also play a key role in the development of mucositis.

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